The ban on travellers from India by Australia had added “anxiety” for its cricketers after the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) suspension, Australia vice-captain Pat Cummins said, as players isolated in the COVID-ravaged country on Wednesday.
The Australian government has barred its citizens from returning home within 14 days of being in India on pain of fines and jail, leaving dozens of its IPL players, coaches and officials stranded.
Australia fast bowler Cummins is isolating in an Ahmedabad hotel after two of his Kolkata Knight Riders teammates contracted COVID-19 before organisers pulled the plug on the tournament on Tuesday.
Cummins said Australia’s travel ban, which will be reviewed on May 15, had come as a “little bit” of a shock.
“Obviously no one has experienced that before,” he told Australian broadcaster Fox Sports.
“It added a bit of anxiety for a few of the Aussies over here. But we signed up to play the tournament until the start of June.
“Hopefully it all re-opens on May 15 and we’ll be able to get back.”
With 3.45 million active cases, India recorded 357,229 new infections on Tuesday, while deaths rose by 3,449 to 222,408.
Cummins’ comments came as the Delhi Capitals confirmed that legspinner Amit Mishra had tested positive for COVID-19 and been moved to a designated medical facility.
Three IPL teams have now confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a fourth team, Sunrisers Hyderabad reported to have a positive test returned by wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha.
As the day progressed, Chennai Super Kings’ Australian batting coach Mike Hussey tested positive for COVID-19.
Hussey would be the third case on the team, which has gone into isolation after announcing on Tuesday that bowling coach L. Balaji and a member of the travel staff tested positive.
Australia is currently allowing only limited flights and arrivals into the country, and roughly a quarter of the 35,000 Australians stranded overseas are in India.
Australia’s decision to penalise its citizens for seeking to return home from India has triggered a backlash from lawmakers, legal experts and human rights advocates.
Australian deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said the government would “potentially” lift the travel ban on May 15.
“We said all along we will review the pause in travel arrangements and that’s what we’re doing, so be patient,” McCormack told a morning TV chatshow on the Nine Network.
English and Bangladeshi cricketers in the IPL also face challenges exiting India due to travel restrictions imposed by home authorities.
BCCI on its part said it will help players, staff and officials get home safely.
Former Australia wicketkeeper and cricket pundit Adam Gilchrist queried whether the tournament should have gone ahead in India.
“Interesting comment about the BCCI saying …. they’re thinking of the safety of all the players,” he said in a video on Sky News.
“I probably feel that they’re a little bit late in considering that. I’m not sure that the tournament should have started in India.”
New Zealand, which has 10 players in the IPL, said its cricketers were “in a relatively safe environment” and those within affected teams were in isolation.
The country’s cricket board said it was liaising with authorities to work out an exit plan.